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How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Herpes

author image Heather Gloria
Heather Gloria began writing professionally in 1990. Her work has appeared in several professional and peer-reviewed publications including "Nutrition in Clinical Practice." Gloria earned both a Bachelor of Science in food science and human nutrition from the University of Illinois. She also maintains the "registered dietitian" credential and her professional interests include therapeutic nutrition, preventive medicine and women's health.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Herpes
Tea tree oil inactivated the herpes simplex virus in test tubes, but patiends should discuss the decision to use it with their physicians. Photo Credit: marrakeshh/iStock/Getty Images

Herpes is a viral infection caused by one of two types of the herpes simplex virus. Infected individuals experience recurrent bouts of painful blisters and itchy open sores that typically take 10 to 14 days to heal, according to Northeastern Ohio University dermatologist Christina Cernik in the June 9, 2008, issue of “Archives of Internal Medicine.” The University of Michigan Health System says that Australian Aborigines traditionally used tea tree oil to treat cuts and skin infections such as herpes. Indeed, a study published by a team of Australian researchers in the September 2001 edition of the “Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy” concluded that tea tree oil inactivated the herpes simplex virus in test tubes. But substances that work well in test tubes do not always work well in people and tea tree oil can cause irritation when applied to skin around the mouth and genitals. Patients who consider using it should discuss this decision with their physicians.

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Apply Tea Tree Oil to Herpes Sores

Step 1

Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry with a clean towel.

Step 2

Dispense a small amount of tea tree oil onto a cotton swab.

Step 3

Gently apply the tea tree oil to sores. If this is your first time using tea tree oil, apply it to just one sore and wait a few minutes to determine whether you experience skin irritation before applying it to the rest of the sores.

Step 4

Discard the swab.

Step 5

Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry with a clean towel.

Step 6

Repeat two to four times per day, as desired.

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  • “Archives of Internal Medicine”; The Treatment of Herpes Simplex Infections; Christina Cernik, M.D. et al.; June 9, 2008
  • University of Michigan Health System: Tea Tree
  • “Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy”; Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil Gel (6%) for the Treatment of Recurrent Herpes Labialis; Christy F. Carson, Ph.D. et al.; September 2001
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